Department store John Lewis has signed the Jobs and Skills Charter today with Birmingham City Council and Network Rail, which will create more than 1,000 new jobs for local people in Birmingham.
Of the 1,000 jobs created by developing the new Grand Central Birmingham shopping centre and Birmingham New Street station, three quarters will come from a new 250,000 sq ft John Lewis store which is set to open in Autumn 2014.
By signing the charter, John Lewis has committed to making these jobs accessible to local people, including those who are young and unemployed.
Andy Street, Managing Director of John Lewis, commented: “Our aim as an employer is to reflect the community in which we trade and I am delighted to sign this charter, which underlines our commitment to providing local jobs for local people.
“We want to ensure that the opportunities created by the new Grand Central development are accessible to all and benefit Birmingham and we look forward to welcoming new partners into our business.”
As part of the charter, John Lewis and Network Rail will make skills, training and access their central concerns and will work with local colleges, universities and training providers as well as nationwide organisations such as Jobcentre Plus, the Skills Funding Agency and the National Apprenticeship Service.
Providing hope for unemployed people in Birmingham, this follows the news that footfall in the West Midland leapt up 10 per cent year-on-year in December 2012, according to the British Retail Consortium-Springboard Footfall Monitor.
This is in contrast to the UK as a whole, which saw footfall decline by 1.2 per cent year-on-year in the same month, and will provide a welcome boost to the morale of Birmingham retailers as budget cuts continue to put pressure on people’s finances.
Redevelopment work has already begun at Birmingham New Street station, which will open the first half of its new concourse in April this year, and the atrium of the Grand Central Birmingham shopping centre is expected to be ready in 2015.
Network Rail Route Managing Director Dyan Crowther said: “The redevelopment of Birmingham New Street will transform the experience for the thousands of passengers who use the station every day and allow it to handle the ever increasing numbers of people who want to use the railways.
“This investment in our transport infrastructure will also give John Lewis and Grand Central the opportunity to offer exciting new retail opportunities in the heart of the city, helping to stimulate regeneration and create one thousand new jobs.
“We’re delighted to be working alongside Birmingham City Council and John Lewis to open up those opportunities to the local community.”